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The movie eXistenZ can be viewed as an allegory for many different things in society. By using metaphors of the body, the director, David Cronenberg, is clearly making an argument about the world around him; however, his argument must be interpreted cautiously for the meaning has a few layers of ambiguity(as metaphors often do). In his movie, Cronenberg uses countless images of the body, violence, and warfare to argue that society is becoming too dependent on technology. More specifically, Cronenberg is arguing that what humans perceive as reality is becoming blurred by their addiction to technology such as video games. Other interpretations of the metaphors in his movie reveal that he is also arguing that video games are polluting people’s minds, just as the AIDS virus pollutes the body. Susan Sontag’s essay “From AIDS and Its Metaphors” supports the interpretation of this metaphor for AIDS. Also, Cronenberg argues against corporate espionage and violence by creating metaphors that are ambiguous for both the ways these are incorporated in society, and how they represent the evils of video games. In Cronenberg’s film, he uses metaphors for the body, violence, corporate espionage and AIDS to argue that people are becoming too addicted to technology.
Thesis– In Cronenberg’s film, he uses metaphors for the body, violence, corporate espionage, video games, and AIDS to argue that society is becoming too dependent on technology.
· Cronenberg uses many images that can be interpreted as metaphors for human beings’ dependence on technology. He uses metaphors that show the interchangeability of humans and their technology to argue that the line between what is real and what is fiction is becoming blurred. Examples: Game characters(facebook), “no one actually skiis”(virtual reality), are we in the game or not? Important to acknowledge that while Cronenberg argues that society is becoming too addicted to technology, he is not arguing that technology is bad because he’s a film director.
· Cronenberg uses metaphors for the body, sex, penetration, pollution, etc. to argue that technology is taking over humanity much like the AIDS virus takes over its host. Sontag’s essay supports these metaphors for AIDS. Technology is becoming too much a part of us. Examples: AIDS is an invasion/pollution. Too much technology invades our minds and pollutes it.
· Cronenberg also uses many images of violence, warfare, and spying between corporations to argue against corporate espionage. He also uses the images of violence to argue that video games are promoting violence. Examples: “relax its just a game character” and “I’m confused, are we still in the game?”. Technology blurs what is reality and what is fiction.
· Cronenberg argues that there is a bridge between technology and humans. This bridge is actually the way technology, especially video games, influence how we act in real life. Technology blurs the line between reality and fiction, which causes humans to be unsure of how to act in real life. It makes humans think that they can act as they do in a video game but in real life. Examples of this are when Allegra kills Kiri Vinokur and tells Ted to relax because he is just a game character. Also, Gas’ references to his reality, game characters in real life, the games inside the game, Ted’s disconnection from reality.
· Why video games are bad: They disconnect us from reality(like a drug), they are crude, dirty, absurd, and violent and they cause us to act this way in real life, they promote stereotypes(chinese waiter), they make life seem boring and replace life’s true meaning with trivial pleasures(disconnection/drug addiction), and they create a bridge between reality and virtual reality.
· Make real-life seem boring– Allegra always wants to be in the game.
· Replace real-life with trivial pleasure– Gas’ new improved life.
· Create brainless dummies– Game characters.
· What’s real? What’s a game?– same blur as below.
· Blur the lines between reality and fiction– Ted isn’t sure if he’s in the game or not, and game inside game.
· Violence, stereotypes, and absurdity in video games bleed through into reality, causing us to act bad– Allegra killing people, plus examples of these in games.
· Causes us to become our characters– Facebook, that wasn’t me it was my character.
· Sexual imagery– Ted doesn’t want his body penetrated for fear of damage. Licking bioports/lubing them up before inserting cord.
· Infection of pods– The infection is spread by porting into pods. Ted transfers infection to pod, the pod transfers infection to Allegra in the game.
· Companies spying on companies– Ted scans people for recording devices.
· Price on Allegra’s head– Noel tries to kill her, then Gas.
· Violence/War between companies– the war going on inside and out of the game. Antenna vs Cortical Systematics, Realism vs Video Games
· Double Agents–
· Video games create a fight between reality and fiction just like corporate espionage is a fight between two companies.
· Both video games and espionage promote violence, deceit, and paranoia.
· AIDS infects and pollutes the body, just like video games infect and pollute the mind.
As time goes on, technology in society is continuously advancing as marked by the tremendous accomplishments in the turn of the century; however, this does not mean that society itself is improving(or society’s improvements come with their own problems). The movie eXistenZ can be viewed as an allegory for some of the problems that are arising as society and technology become more advanced. Director David Cronenberg uses metaphors of the human body and mind and the actions of human beings in a virtual reality world to make an argument about the problems he sees in society. Cronenberg uses the characters in a video game called eXistenZ as a metaphor for the affect technology, such as video games, has on human beings. More specifically, Cronenberg uses these metaphors to argue that human beings are becoming too dependent on technology.
In the movie eXistenZ, Cronenberg creates a futuristic, science fiction world, in which video games and other technologies are so advanced that they are often made out of organic materials, such as flesh and bone. In this world, Allegra Geller, the creator of the latest, greatest video game called eXistenZ, is testing her game with a few volunteer supporters of Antenna Research, the game company she works for. The gaming devices, called “game pods”, are made out of organic material and they are physically connected to a person via an umbilical cord that plugs into said person’s “bio-port”, an outlet that opens into their spinal cord. Once a person “ports” into the game, they transcend into a virtual reality world, in this case eXistenZ, in which they become a game character. However, before Allegra can “port” into eXistenZ she is interrupted by a man who tries to assassinate her with a tooth-shooting pistol made of flesh and bone. This man is part of an extremist group known as the “Realists”, whom are trying to get rid of all video games. Allegra barely escapes with her life and her precious game, and is forced to escape with a public relations employee named Ted Pikul. In order to stay safe from the enemies she believes are hiding in her own game company, Allegra runs off into the rural country to seek refuge. After escaping to what seems to be a safe place in the country, Allegra insists that she must play her game with someone friendly in order to insure that nothing in her game was damaged during the initial attack. This prompts her and Ted to “port” into the virtual world of eXistenZ.
Once inside the game, they enter into a war in which the “Realists” are trying to destroy video game companies and the fictitious worlds they create. This war is riddled with double agents and spies, so Allegra and Ted do not know whom to trust. Eventually, the two main characters make their way through the game and end up back in reality; however, they are not sure if the world they end up in is reality at all, or if in fact, they are still in the game. In the world they have now entered, the “Realist” uprising has begun and the “Realists” are destroying all the video game manufacturers in the countryside. Allegra’s “game pod” has become infected and dies because one of her old friends whom she trusted turned out to be a member of “Cortical Systematics”, a rival video game company. Her old friend, Kiri Vinokur, duplicated her game and killed her version of it in order to get her to leave “Antenna Research” and come to “Cortical Systematics”. When Allegra finds this out she kills Kiri because she thinks she is still in the game, which leads Ted to confess to her that he is actually part of the “Realist” movement and is her true assassin. However, before Ted can kill Allegra, she kills him. After killing Ted, Allegra asks if she has one the game. This is when the movie reveals that all that has happened so far has been inside the video game, and the next scene moves to a small room where the real people are testing the real video game system. All the characters in the game are in this room and the movie reveals that the true game creator is a man named Yevgeny Nourish. While everyone is debriefing about the game they just played, Ted and Allegra assassinate Yevgeny and his assistant and the movie ends.
Cronenberg is using his film to argue that technology is taking over humans’ lives. He believes that the fictitious worlds created by technology are replacing people’s realities. He argues that technology, especially video games, disconnect people from reality and alter their perception of reality. Also, he argues that video games create a bridge between reality and fiction that causes people to act like their game characters. These two arguments are very closely related, thus Cronenberg uses metaphors that are ambiguous for both. First, Cronenberg uses his plot as a metaphor for the interchangeability between people’s realities and their fictions. The plot is mostly set inside a game that is inside a game, which is also inside a game. This setting of a game inside a game is a metaphor for how virtual realities disconnect people from reality. This argument can be seen in this quote from eXistenZ, in which Ted and Allegra come out of eXistenZ for the first time, “ I’m not sure here, where we are, is real at all. This feels like a game to me.” This quote shows Cronenberg’s argument that video games alter the way humans perceive reality and disconnect them from the real world because Ted does not know whether he is still in the game or if he is in real life. This is a metaphor for how an overuse of video games will affect people.
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